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U.S. proposes new safety standards for large buses

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Wednesday proposed new safety standards to protect passengers on large buses in rollover crashes.

NHTSA, part of the Transportation Department, said the proposal aims to improve the structural design of large buses to ensure that the space around passengers remains sufficiently intact and emergency exits work in a rollover crash.

"Stronger large bus structures, combined with seat belt use will help keep passengers secured and protected in the event of a crash," David Friedman, the agency's acting administrator, said in a statement.

The proposal would establish performance requirements that each new motorcoach and large bus must meet when subjected to a test in which the vehicle is tipped over from a raised platform onto a hard level surface, NHTSA said.

In addition to requiring that the space around passengers remains intact and emergency exits work, the rule would mandate that seats, overhead luggage racks and window glazing remain attached to their mountings.

NHTSA said the requirements are closely modeled on European regulations for large buses.

The agency said members of the public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposal for 60 days. NHTSA is proposing a compliance date of three years after publication of a final rule.

In a separate move, the Transportation Department said it is planning to finalize requirements later this year for stability control technologies in large buses and motorcoaches that would help prevent rollovers from occurring.

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Editing by Will Dunham)

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